Yoko Mizuike relates her perspective on cat photography: “In Japan, cats have had a big boom in recent years, and many items related to cats, including photo books are on sale. In the early days of the boom, things that were focused on “cats are cute” were popular, but recently it seems that they are selling less. Even in photo collections, etc., popularity has gathered in works that focus on unusual cat ecology, movement and expression, and I feel that consumption trends are shifting. Among them, I think that it is now necessary to suggest pictures of cats as art that have added value over simply being cute.”
Yoko Mizuike chooses stray cats as photography subjects, the selection being based on the environment and atmosphere where the cats are placed. Her work theme is “surrealism” “déjà vu”, so she chooses cats already met in the past. Her personal preference is for cats with green eyes and short hair. The photographer comments: “I believe that cats are indispensable as one piece that shapes this world, including a long history of coexistence with humans. The cats in my pictures, including my dreams and memories, function as something I have met sometime, somewhere. It is a “key” that can open doors to your own memory world and the world of dreams.”
Yoko Mizuike gives us an interesting explanation on cats: “In Japan, cats have long had an existence as a god-like “lucky cat” from old times, and an evil existence such as “goblin cat” on the contrary. Since the Japanese have a history of believing in 8 million Gods, we believe that God is present in everything traditionally present in the world; like in the supple athletic ability of the cat, and their characteristic crying, as if a human baby were crying. Cats are capricious, sometimes obedient or suddenly taking a unique attitude… It may be for this reason that cats have such a mystique about them, and we could therefore consider the cat as a special being.”
Yoko Mizuike truly believes that if she can use this mystique in her work, she can arouse the imagination of the viewer more. She produces works with the purpose of evoking imagined stories and memories for the viewer. Her shooting approach is not only to shoot by looking at the cat, but also by taking into account the surrounding environment and atmosphere with imaginative possibilities so that viewers can imagine freely based on their own experience and way of thinking. Yoko Mizuike hopes that, after seeing her work, viewers will be free to expand the wings of their imagination.
© Yoko Mizuike